Following the news that Birds Eye Foods, the business behind the eponymous frozen food business in the US, is planning an IPO, we take a look at five facts about the US frozen food industry.

1. Within the US frozen food sector, the frozen dinners and entrees (excluding pizza) and frozen vegetables categories represent the biggest and fifth-largest categories within the US frozen food industry. The categories generated around US$6bn and around $2bn in grocery channel retail sales, respectively, according to figures by International Resources Inc (IRI) for the 52 week period ended on 6 September.

2. It is estimated that Wal-Mart represents around 27% and 22% of the overall retail sales of the frozen dinners and entrees and frozen vegetables markets, respectively in the US. Birds Eye, however, currently holds the number one market share position with a 26.5% share of the US frozen vegetables category. On a combined basis, its Steamfresh and Voila brands hold the number two market share position with a combined 21.8% share of the US complete bagged meal category, according to IRI.

3. Even as the US begins to pull out of recession in late 2009 or early 2010 frozen foods is predicted to continue to be buoyed by new convenience and health-targeted introductions, with sales forecast to grow 25% between 2008 and 2013 to reach US$64.8bn, according to figures by

4. The complete bagged meal segment of the US frozen dinners and entrees category generates annual grocery channel retail sales of around $580m, IRI claims. From 2005 to 2008, frozen food industry grocery channel retail sales grew at a CAGR of around 2.3%, while key category segments, including frozen dinners and entrees and frozen vegetables grew at a CAGR of around 1.8% and 4.8%, respectively. The complete bagged meal segment grew at a CAGR of around 9.8%.

5. In 1923, with an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice, Clarence Birdseye invented and later perfected a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure, reports. The Goldman-Sachs Trading Corporation and the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corporation) bought Clarence Birdseye’s patents and trademarks in 1929 for $22m. The first quick-frozen vegetables, fruits, seafoods, and meat were sold to the public for the first time in 1930 in Springfield, Massachusetts, under the tradename Birds Eye Frosted Foods.